Guide Dog Pup, Kirsty
Guide Dog Pup Kirsty is a golden Labrador x Retriever who arrived in Hobart in July 2016….on the coldest day of the year.
She arrived with her brother, Kobie. Kirsty lives with her Puppy Raisers in Launceston.
She was was named after local photographer, Kirsty Pilkington, who has been photographing our new pups since 2009. She donates her time and we are truly grateful, as this kind of professional service would have cost thousands and thousands of dollars over the years.
Kirsty (the human) was pretty chuffed when she met Kirsty (the puppy)!
Hi everyone! I have some exciting news to tell you. Within the next few weeks, I will be graduating as a Guide Dog – yipppeeee!
If you listen to ABC Radio – Northern Tasmania, you would know that reporter Piia Wirsu has been following my journey since I entered formal training at the start of the year. In the latest episode, which you can find in my doggy-bloggy entry below, I got to take Piia on a blindfolded walk to show her how much I’d learnt! I think she was very impressed.
This may be my last doggy-bloggy entry for some time, as I will soon be matched with a Tasmanian who needs me, and I’ll be super busy getting to know them and their routines. Thank you VERY much for following my journey.
I’m settling into the Launceston office well and continuing to gain confidence in my training harness.
I will admit that I can get super excited when I see someone I know, but my Instructor is hoping I will gradually calm down as it would be hard for someone who is vision impaired to keep my enthusiasm under control at times. I would not want this to stop me from being a Guide Dog, so I will do my very best to work on this excitement that comes over me.
Have you been following my training adventures on ABC Radio – Northern Tasmania? My Instructor, Sean, and I feature on their regularly, so you could pretty much say we’re celebrities of Launceston! If you’ve missed these episodes of “Keeping up with Kirsty”, as I like to call them, you can listen to them all online! You’ll see links to each episode in my doggy-bloggy below. They’re a great insight into what it’s like to be a Guide Dog in Training like me!
Guess what? I have some exciting news! I am currently undertaking my formal Guide Dog training in Launceston with my Instructor, Sean! He’s teaching me heaps and I really hope I graduate in a few months’ time and make a difference to someone’s life as a Guide Dog.
Did you know that ABC Northern Tasmania are following my training journey with fortnightly segments on their ‘Drive’ program?
You can listen to them here!
Episode 1: First day on the job
Episode 2: Day out at the Museum
Episode 3: Getting into the harness
Episode 4: ‘Paw’sitive reinforcement
Episode 5: Taking a break
Episode 6: Meet the Boarders
Episode 7: Off for a coffee
Episode 8: The art of self-restraint
Episode 9: Sean and Kirsty go to the mall
Episode 10: A walk on the wild side
I’ll continue to add links to each segment as they air! Hope you enjoy.
Hello, welcome to my latest doggy-bloggy!
At the end of my holiday boarding in Hobart, I was waiting in the Launceston Guide Dog Office with all its wonderful smells of dogs and people when who should come in but my original Puppy Raisers! I got a bit of a surprise and was very excited at seeing them. They took me back to their place where I soon settled down into a routine
We have been to the beach three or four times and it is my favourite place for a good run around to let off steam. There are lots of good smells at the high tide mark and in the dunes beyond. I have been returning to the whistle much better and am not as liable to go off to other dogs and people on the beach.
We have gone on lots of walks, ridden in buses, been to the rooms of doctors, physios and vets, as well as restaurants and even once for nine holes of golf! I have been very well behaved each time. I also hear that I am getting much better with visitors arriving, but generally I have to go to my mat for a period after they arrive.
I have been again to another boarder’s house, this time it was in Launceston. It is really great to get so much variety! I went to the swimming pool, a basketball tournament, the dental hospital, the museum and almost every day I went to a primary school. I have a new best friend he is a rabbit. I love to lick him through the hutch wire and he pushes himself up against the wire so that I can!
What adventures I get to have!
Over the last couple of months I have been on a big adventure. My Puppy Raisers had to go away so I have been staying with a Boarder in Hobart. I was a bit nervous at first, but when I got to her house I found that she has the best squeaky toy ever – Noah, the cat! He is soft and squishy and squeaks whenever I poke him with my nose. For the first few days I was very excited to see him and cried if I couldn’t get to him, but now I am very calm and we are quite good friends, although I do still like making him squeak occasionally!
I have been going to work with my Boarder. She works at the university and there are lots of people and different buildings to visit, and the most delicious smells coming from the Zoology laboratories! But when I am wearing my “Lab coat” (Get it? HA!) I know that I need to focus on my job. In our building, there are lots of stairs to practice on with different textures and light levels, and some are open so I can see down several floors. I have been practicing stopping at the top of the stairs and stepping on to the first stair and waiting when I’m at the bottom. This is so my vision impaired person will know that there are obstacles ahead. My biggest test was when the fire alarm went off. We had to walk right past the alarm and it was so loud that the humans were covering their ears. Then we had to walk down four flights of stairs, but there were so many people that we had to keep stopping. Apart from some sneaky sniffing of the people in front (well, they were right there!), my Boarder said I was just about perfect! I stayed very calm and didn’t pull, even with all the excited people and loud noises.
But it’s not all work. Most mornings at work we have a short coffee break and when we go outside my coat comes off and I have a cuddle and play games with my Boarder’s colleagues. I get so excited that I want to have something in my mouth to present to them, and if I can’t find anything else I use their hands! But they tell me “no”, and I am slowly learning that people don’t like this trick. After work we go to a park where I can run around with lots of other dogs. I am very friendly and like to meet every dog at the park, but I usually end up playing with my favourites, including some of the other Guide Dog pups like Billie and Benji! We play and run and play some more, and when I am completely covered in mud we head home for dinner and I am reunited with my favourite squeaky toy. It’s not a bad life, but I’m looking forward to seeing my Puppy Raisers again soon!
Want to know what my favourite thing is at the moment? I would have to say my bed! I do like having my own space and will happily go to bed each night where I usually sleep undisturbed for 8-9 hours. I am quite contented to play quietly with my toys when my Puppy Raisers are busy doing their thing. But I do love it just as much when they come and join in with me and play games. I occasionally get into trouble for bringing sticks inside that I have found as wonderful treasures outside. They just don’t seem to appreciate them like I do!
It has been a busy past few months with lots of things happening for me. I have even been on some holidays with people called ‘boarders’ so that I get used to different environments and become nice and adaptable. I got to visit their workplaces and learnt that at work you sit very quietly on your big comfy bed, and then afterwards you get a big play at the park. Work is awesome! They had a cat who was not too sure of me at first, but after a while would enter the same room as me. I tried very hard not to ‘play’ with the cat too much as I knew it didn’t like this.
I have been working really hard on coming back to my Puppy Raisers when they blow a special whistle. In the dog park I must admit there are some times when I am just too busy. But this is something that I must really practice so that my future client takes me to the park lots and lots for some off duty play. See you next time!
Although this was a short month there was a lot squeezed into it. We had in-house visitors, guests for dinner, a number of trips to the St Leonards dog park, visits to beaches and vineyards, and I had a week with Harvey’s Puppy Raisers.
The visitors had 5-year old twins who were a little scared of me at the start, I think someone had told them I was boisterous, but I was on my best behaviour when told to “be gentle” and we all got along very nicely. They played with me towards the end of their stay, which was good fun.
I love going to the St Leonards dog park as there are usually other dogs there to play with. We run into the river and out again many times. The beach is also a great environment but I am not let off the lead. I think that it could be because I am not very good at coming back! Sure, I will come back when there is nothing much going on and if there are treats on offer. But if I am busy running, demolishing washed up sea sponges, chasing seagulls or doing some other fun activities, coming back is the last thing I want to do.
We went into a couple of vineyards to taste wine. I was not even offered a sniff. Because I had my coat on, I ignored barking dogs and lay under the table whilst my carers indulged. One of the ladies was very interested in the Guide Dogs program and wanted to pat me but was told about the etiquette of the situation. She understood, and let me concentrate. I was very grateful.
I was quite looking forward to seeing in my first New Year, but would you believe it these oldies who look after me went to bed at 10.00pm, and of course so did I. I did hear some of the fireworks but noises don’t worry me. In fact, when David is pottering around outside with saws, drills and grinders, I run from wherever I am to wee what is going on – supervising really. He tries to get between me and the action but I am alert to that and stick my nose between his ankles.
Australia Day was big here as Claire became a citizen of Australia. We all trouped down to the ceremony; it was a bit boring and I slept through most of it, but the frequent applause kept waking me up. The barbecue afterwards was great and I was let off to greet the guests and according to what I heard was very well behaved.
At a training day towards the end of the month they were trying to get me to come with lots of encouragement and treats. I am not too sure about this but went along with it and started to do quite well. We’ll see how this develops. I really want to get really good at coming back to the whistle so that my vision impaired client in the future takes me to the park lots and lots.
This month was very exciting with lots of visitors to our house, many of whom were young people that liked to play with me. I heard my Puppy Raisers say that they thought it was good for me to have folks in-house as it got me to greet people every morning making it more routine. We also had lots of visitors for meals and I managed to contain myself much better.
We had plenty of visits to other places. There was the Guide Dogs’ BBQ at Heritage Park and the Bunnings Family night. Both were good events as I saw my special friends Harvey, Frankie J and Kobie, as well as other dogs. Over the Christmas period we had a lot of visits to the coast and I had great fun tearing around the beaches. The sea water is great to run through and I especially like the pools that form beside rocks as they are nice and deep and I can get right into them. I especially liked the beaches at Fossil Bluff and Marrawah as there were very few people there and I got a good long run. I must admit that I am not keen to go back to the car, but always cooperate in the end.
We had a good session on the travelator at the new Woolworths store in Launceston. This was another excursion where I met my local friends. I was hesitant about the travelator at first but got used to it and found that it was pretty easy to get on and off.
I also had my first night away from home in a cottage near Smithton. I had my own bed to sleep on and behaved very well sleeping through for 8 hours as usual.
All-in-all I rather like this Christmas period as there is a lots of variety in people and places.
Don’t the months fly by – I am now nearly 7 months old and weigh in at 27.2 Kg.
This month started off with more of the same, visits here and there and walks around the supermarket, town, mall and home beat. I had a trip to the golf course but found it pretty boring; my carers chased a little white ball around and did not even offer to give me a chew of one. They let me off on the last hole for a “tear around” and I made the most of it, especially the sand bunkers where I did some serious circle work. It took quite a while for them to rake out the foot prints and skid marks.
Towards the end of the month I had my first stay away with a Boarder for 3 nights. Shortly after that I had a day with another Puppy Raiser and some serous games with other dogs Harvey, Franky J and Biscuit. We played so hard I was listless for 2 days.
I went for my big operation recently; it knocked me around a bit and I only started feeling more like myself this afternoon. I heard them saying that I was behaving erratically. I have had little to eat for two days so am looking forward to dinner time, but isn’t it the thing – when you want time to go quickly it drags.
More from me next time!